A recent surge in coronavirus cases has made San Antonio one of the nation’s hotspots, but respondents to the latest Bexar Facts/KSAT/Rivard Report poll differed on the severity of the pandemic – and what should be done to contain it – based on their political affiliation.
Fifty-two percent of the 616 respondents who identified as Republican maintained “the worst is over” regarding the impact of the coronavirus locally, and 61 percent said continued social distancing and business closures will cause unnecessary damage to the economy and residents’ lives. Only 14 percent of respondents who identified as Democrats thought the worst was over and 16 percent thought social distancing and business closures would cause unnecessary damage.
Seventy-eight percent of Democrat respondents believe the worst is yet to come. The nonpartisan poll was conducted online and via telephone from June 10-14, right before daily COVID-19 cases started spiking in Bexar County.
“It’s like day and night in terms of how Democrats and Republicans are viewing these issues,” said David Metz, the survey’s pollster, noting many of the responses were informed by the way elected leaders both locally and nationally have been talking about the pandemic and the need for continued measures to contain it.
Metz said in addition to the influence of political affiliation there also is “an interesting economic dynamic” at play, where more affluent voters tend to be more concerned that social distancing will go on too long and damage the economy.
Sixty-four percent of those with incomes less than $100,000 are concerned that social distancing and restrictions on businesses will end too soon, while 31 percent of people in that income bracket are concerned restrictions will go on too long.
Those who make more than $100,000 are more evenly split with 44 percent believing social distancing measures will go on too long, and 50 percent concerned they will end too soon.
However, the one thing respondents of both political affiliations agreed on was that coronavirus was one of the two most serious problems local officials need to address along with issues of crime and security. And for the most part, those polled agreed as to how the City should invest its time and resources.
Ninety-two percent of voters agreed that providing workforce development support, including job training and child care for essential workers, is a good investment, and 93 percent support the City lending support to small businesses by way of grants and counseling services.
“There is overwhelming support for the City’s response to the pandemic and the various categories of public investment that [have been] approved,” Metz said, noting the poll asked about each funding category included in the $191 million local recovery plan approved by San Antonio City Council on June 4. The only investment “where there is a little more ambivalence” is when it comes to whether the plan should include housing assistance.
But those in support still outnumbered those opposed by more than 3-to-1, Metz said, with 77 percent supporting housing assistance provisions, including rental and mortgage payments, or cash to low-income residents.